Peterborough United manager Steve Evans insists Saturday’s (September 22) match at struggling Gillingham is just as big a test of his side’s promotion credentials as last weekend’s battle of the top two against Portsmouth.
Posh lost that battle 2-1 and lost top spot as a result, but Evans is expecting a positive reaction from his disappointed players at the Priestfield Stadium against out-of-form opposition.
Evans believes he will have an improved idea of his side’s promotion prospects after a clash with former Posh favourite Gaby Zakuani and co.
“Good sides bounce back quickly from disappointments,” Evans stated. “Teams that win promotion tend to string sequences of positive results together regularly throughout a season.
“That’s what I want to see from us. The last time we had a disappointing result at home to Doncaster we won well the following week at Southend.
“That’s the challenge on Saturday for us and it’s a big challenge as we will be playing a team who are just as desperate for points as we are.
“Gillingham are on a bad run, but bad runs, like great runs, don’t last for ever.
“Their manager Steve Lovell will get it right there soon enough so we have to make sure it doesn’t happen against us.
“It’s a tough place to go and play. Gillingham’s fans are passionate and get right behind their team so we have to start well and keep the crowd out of the game.
“We’ve been excellent away from home so far this season. We seem to be well suited to playing away as four wins out of four suggests, but that doesn’t mean we have stopped looking at ways to get even better.
“We might modify the way we play at home and away, but we will go to Gillingham confident we can bounce back.”
Posh will go back to the top of the table if they better Portsmouth’s result at home to Wycombe on Saturday.
Evans believes winger Siriki Dembele, the winner of the League One goal-of-the-month for August for his effort against Luton, will be a key man and hopes referees start giving the youngster more protection.
“League One clubs have woken up to Siriki Dembele’s ability,” Evans added. “They are trying to stop him with foul means not fair means.”
Club captain Zakuani is expected to return to the Gillingham starting line-up after a spell on the sidelines because of injury and illness.